Max Verstappen was left confused by the feeling from his Red Bull in qualifying at the British Grand Prix but still believes he can overhaul Lewis Hamilton in the Sprint and main race.
A one-hour FP1 session on Friday was topped by Verstappen by more than 0.7s but Hamilton hit back to set the fastest time in qualifying, securing pole position on the grid for the Sprint, with the result of the shorter race setting the starting order for Sunday’s grand prix. After such an unexpected turnaround, Verstappen says Red Bull only needs to look at its own performance rather than be worried about Mercedes as something didn’t feel right with his front tires.
“It just felt weird,” Verstappen said. “I think the car was quite competitive and I had a lot of grip, but the corners where you had to attack I just didn’t have the front grip. I didn’t really feel like it was front wing or setup related, just a very odd feeling with the front tires, they just didn’t seem to give me the grip.
“So we need to have a look at what’s happening there because we tried a few things, but it was not really improving my feeling throughout qualifying and understeer throughout qualifying is slow. So still to be that close I think is very good for us on a track we know they are very strong, so it’s nothing really worrying.”
While teams are limited on the changes they can make before the Sprint on Saturday, Verstappen is hopeful he can rectify the issue.
“If we can fix that weird feeling we had in qualifying then I’m sure we can do a good job … I know (it’s part ferme regulations) but for me it’s tire-related, so we’ll have a look.”
The championship leader admits the new format is taking some getting used to, after giving his all in a normal qualifying session but the end result only applying to the shorter first race of the weekend.
“It’s a bit of a weird feeling to be honest. You do qualifying, you go flat-out and actually it doesn’t really mean anything in terms of pole position feeling, so we’ll see tomorrow. I think we have a strong race car, we just need to fix a bit the issues we had in qualifying, but I’m quite confident that we can have a strong race.”